Reading time less than 5 minutes
What are you going to do with your extra day this Leap Year? That’s 24 precious hours you won’t see again for four more years. It’s just one week from today. Whether you rest, work, or play, just be mindful and grateful for this gift.
What’s Going On At Riverwood?
Two Red-Shouldered Hawks have taken over the nest inhabited for several years by a pair of Cooper’s Hawks. It’s a huge, messy bundle of sticks and leaves wedged into a notch about 40 feet up in a tall pine tree in our backyard. The hawks have been flying in and out, sprucing it up with fresh pine twigs.
My binoculars are close at hand to see if the former owners show up and to watch the drama of new life unfold.
What’s going on in your part of the world?
✧NORTH—Faith: Short Prayers are just fine
We all want to come to God as our best selves, with our best foot forward, our hearts full and our intentions pure. But if we’re honest, the times we need God most are when we are frightened, frazzled, exhausted, sick, or heavy-laden. Having a few short prayers in your arsenal may be perfect for these desperate times. Jesus, himself said, “When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases” (Matthew 6:7), so clearly he encourages us to be short and to the point when we talk to God.
In her book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Ann Lamott brings her signature humor and faith to the need for short prayers. I have often used these three single words when I was incapable of being more articulate with God.
Here are some great examples from Scripture:
• Matthew 15:25, a mother’s prayer of desperation: “Lord, help me.”
• John 20:28, Thomas’s prayer of belief: “My Lord and my God.”
• Luke 1:38, Mary’s assent to God’s will: “Here am I.”
• Psalm 25:1, David’s prayer for guidance: “In You, Lord my God, I put my trust.”
My most recurring short prayer is, “Please, be with me!” God is always happy to see us drawing near. He doesn’t care whether our words are simple or flowery. He just wants them to be heartspoken.
✧South—Connection: Leave others to their own faults
We live in connection with others, whether it’s our family, our community, our workplace, or our favorite organization. Inevitably, we rub up against our differences, and it’s almost impossible not to find fault with others. Our ego says, “I’m right, and they’re wrong!” We think they should change.
But wisdom from all the ancient religions and philosophies offers counter-intuitive advice. The Stoic philosopher Seneca cautioned us to stop wasting our precious time and energy trying to change someone else.
Let them tend to their own faults. That’s their job, not ours. We’ve got enough to do tending our own.
✧East—Self-Awareness: The worst 4 words in the world
In her excellent book Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo made a statement that haunts me:
Deathbed interviews have proven this is true. When they’re running out of time, most express regret over things they didn’t do—missed opportunities to love, learn, grow, or engage with life more fully.
What would you wish you had done if you knew your time was up?
- A travel destination on your bucket list?
- A skill you’ve been wanting to learn?
- A person you need to contact?
- A person who needs to hear you say, “I love you.”
- A person who needs to hear you say, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you”?
Whatever is is, what’s stopping you from starting on it right now?
✧West—Nature: Take Nature Notes
Here in Virginia, Mother Nature is on the move outside. Leaf buds are beginning to swell. Winter jasmine is blooming, and soon we’ll see crocuses. A warm spell has already coaxed daffodil bulbs to send up their greenery. All God’s creatures are shaking off their winter doldrums and coming back to life, so pay attention and see if you can notice changes from day to day.
“The hawks are nesting earlier than usual this year!”
“The forsythia is blooming two weeks earlier than it did last year.”
“This time last year, we had 16 inches of snow on the ground!”
You don’t need a formal journal: a simple notebook or desktop calendar will do, but one of the best-designed nature journals I’ve seen is called The Naturalist’s Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World around You. Click the book cover above (my affiliate link) to get more information on Amazon.
Besides being fun, keeping a Nature journal makes you more observant.
Heartspoken Notes & Letters
Note writing tip: Keep supplies on hand
Researchers have repeatedly confirmed that to make a desired behavior a habit, we must make it easy and convenient. For becoming a more faithful note or letter writer, this means keeping supplies close at hand: stationery, writing implements, address information, and postage stamps. Give some thought to how you can make it as easy and convenient as possible, so the next time you think of someone to whom you’d like to write, you won’t have any excuses.
Recent Posts at Heartspoken
“Can Country Music Change the World?” – I found the Ken Burns documentary called “Country Music” to be profoundly moving and thought-provoking. Here’s my review.
“Get Outdoors and Discover the Forest” This is an updated post with new resource links about the soul-nourishing benefits of our forests and natural places.
“Book Review: Everything is Figureoutable” This inspiring self-help book from Marie Forleo was surprisingly jam-packed with practical, helpful, and implementable ideas for living a purpose-driven life.
“Can A Simple Letter Really Prevent Suicide?” – This was inspired by a blockbuster report on some long-forgotten research showing the answer to this question is a resounding YES.
While it is February one can taste the full joys of anticipation. Spring stands at the gate with her finger on the latch. ~ Patience Strong
If January is the month of change, February is the month of lasting change. January is for dreamers. February is for doers… ~ Marc Parent
In February, there is everything to hope for and nothing to regret. ~Patience Strong
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See you in March—when here in Virginia, winds will blow, but Spring will start to show up. Until then, breathe deeply, love fiercely, and savor every moment. Know you are in my thoughts and prayers.